General thoughts about landmark artworks

Thinking about my experience in Canberra made me realise that the idea of gentrification isn’t always easy to discern in some areas that have been developed. When an area is left abandoned you will get certain landmarks such as a graffiti build-up, these collaborative spaces are not thought out or organised, I have described them as a cacophony of noises as a musical analogy. When these spaces are developed the same thing happens in reverse, landmarks appear through a process of curation and organisation. Suddenly the landmarks appear and this alienates some yet agrees with a majority. People will always en masse side with organised activities and those types of efforts. I have always felt compelled and excited by disorganisation, this is most likely because of how my brain works as opposed to what the majority think or apply themselves to.

What is attractive about disorganisation? It is the search for the unexpected rather than a love of chaos or dislike of social airs or effort of any kind. Being disorganised, which has been explored quite a lot in art history and the arts has always veered away from populist political views or populist arts. Now people will say why not be organised and make art that can be a product or agreeable and fit for the market. Street art can be quite agreeable though its roots are quite chaotic and these expressions are still active though it can seem a bit dated. The landmarks though have become sought out by the general public as opposed to a subculture only, both landmarks still exist yet one is in the public eye and the other is relatively unknown. 

The other day someone asked me why I had made such an ugly artwork in a public space and in fact they had only seen the photo and didn’t realise the context, in that it was done in a space that was quite ugly anyway by the side of a busy road with no organised or attractive walls. It was full of random visual activity and mine was in the same spirit, it wasn’t made to turn heads but simply make something appear as though from out of nowhere with no point other than to inspire a minority. It isn’t that I want to have some kind of bad experience, disorganisation is in fact a process as much as organised work. It all takes effort and thought, I had been thinking about this particular work for over a week and I had a dream about buying paint and trying something I hadn’t tried before.

One artist was talking about his experience in art school, where he was trying to have a new or novel idea just so he could blow up in the art world and now he has blown up by painting rectangular coloured squares on the streets. I think it is true that everything has been done and at the end of the day what matters is effort and thought. All acts are either freeing people up or alienating them or anything in between. What made me uncomfortable was the person complaining about my ugly work in public also feels quite alienated by organised work that is purely agreeable, though what they are afraid of is going too far where you can’t get any legal walls because your work is ugly and disagreeable. I explained that the work I made was simply for my own benefit and in a context where anything goes and I wouldn’t do that type of work on a large feature wall like the ones I paint in more public contexts.

I also decided to make more of these ugly works in my garage out of Sydney on paper grids or directly on the wall so I was free not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would rather just document the work or if on the paper store it and possibly exhibit it regionally rather than worry about Sydney or major cities with their love of populist artmaking. I understand the fear of becoming so alienated as to only be able to work under freeway corridors or abandoned buildings, I wouldn’t want to make certain work in public spaces anyway because we all have boundaries and a general understanding of what is appropriate. The funny part of all of this is most people don’t really see graffiti, rather they experience it and most of the time pay no attention to it all because they are in the throws of getting from A to B. So some people see the landmark piece and some don’t, some landmarks are not on everyone’s map.

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